The Wijnegem Shopping Center near Antwerp has opened a new extension, its third in twenty years of existence. Two stores are a first for the BeNeLux: Danish childhood heroes Lego and Benetton's new concept Playlife.
Lego and Playlife main new names
For the Danes, it is their 28th store in Europe, but only their third in a smaller country (following Austria and, of course, Denmark). Playlife is even more exclusive, with the new Antwerp store being only the second opening north of the Alps – just days after the Italians opened in Frankfurt.
Other big names in the new wing are America Today, Fred & Ginger, Tommy Hilfiger, Esprit and JBC, the latter two featuring their brand new concept. In the existing wings too, many stores have upgraded to a new look to be able to compete with the newcomers: “some thirty existing stores have installed a new concept”, according to commercial manager Jeroen Hafkamp.
Some stores moved from the old to the new part, creating vacancies that immediately found new tenants. Claudia Sträter (since August) and Desigual (soon) are the major names among those.
“Making the biggest one even bigger”
The new wing increases the commercial surface by 5,000 square meters and the workforce by 400 people, “making the biggest one even bigger”, said Hafkamp. In March, when the shopping centre celebrates its 21st anniversary, the renovation of the existing wings – including a complete renewal of electric wiring and lights – should be complete.
And afterwards? “We have no limits: we always have included an upwards extension in our plans”, Hafkamp answered. Will the 25th anniversary in 2018 be celebrated with an extra floor on top of the current shopping center? We found no clear denial (on the contrary), but: “first let us enjoy this big step, and we will see what comes next...”